Over 3,000 demonstrators gathered near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva on Saturday evening to protest what they say is his hesitant and slow conduct in the investigations of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Police deployed hundreds of officers to the scene of the protests in Petah Tikva's Goren Square, who were entrusted with keeping the peace and separating the two sides. The area was entirely closed off to traffic.
Demonstrators held up signs saying, "Mandelblit, issue a stay of exit order to the Netanyahu family," "Bibi doesn't give a f*** about the law" and "INSS Bribery," among others.
Among the speakers at the demonstration are social activist Daphni Leef, one of the organizers of the social protest in the summer of 2011; former chief caretaker at the Prime Minister's Residence Meni Naftali, who successfully sued Netanyahu and his wife Sara over the treatment he received under their employ; and Naomi Morbia, who leads the disabled's protest.
The demonstration was held a day after Netanyahu's former chief of staff Ari Harow signed a state witness agreement to provide police with possibly incriminating information against the prime minister.
While this is the 37th consecutive weekend such a protest is held, this time demonstrators were met with a counter protest of some 400 Likud supporters, which was organized by coalition chairman MK David Bitan (Likud).
He said he asked prominent activists in the Likud movement to show up for the demonstration, but did not petition Knesset members.
Nevertheless, Communication Minister Ayoob Kara, also of the Likud party, announced he would attend, while Likud MKs Nava Boker and Nurit Koren joined the pro-Netanyahu rally as well.
Likud supporters prepared signs saying, "The rule of law is a joke to the left-wing," "One Thousand and One investigative cases," "Loving Netanyahu, protecting democracy," and "The people elect, the leftists frame."
They also waved Likud banners and Israeli flags.
"We won't leave the protesters alone because these demonstrations are undemocratic," Bitan asserted. "There is pressure put on the attorney general, who has yet to receive the (investigative) materials from the police. These demonstrations must be stopped, and we will fight this with our own demonstration—they won't protest alone against Mandelblit. Only the left-wing is capable of protesting against the attorney general."
Bitan went on to say that, "Gentlemen, Netanyahu will be the prime minister in the coming decade. I call on MKs and ministers to start acting for the Likud... I call on all of our people to come here, because if you don't, you'll suffer in the primaries."
MK Boker, meanwhile, lamented that "We're being wronged. The prime minister is innocent until proven otherwise."
Both MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) and Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) tried to approach the Likud supporters and were yelled at.
Gilon said he wanted to speak to Bitan. "I didn't know they were so violent. What kind of language is this? They wished me horrible things," he said.
Raanan Ben-Zur, Itay Blumenthal and Moran Azulay contributed to this report.